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Picking a good spot for Permanent Pier

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#1 Maximus001

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Posted 17 June 2022 - 01:25 PM

Hi Folks,

 

I've been looking into the idea of a permanent pier but find that all locations are a major compromise.  Living out in the country certainly has its benefits for stargazing but I'm surrounded by huge trees a large barn and of course the house, What I'm wondering is how should I prioritize each section of the sky?  That is, would you think the south is likely the part of the sky with the best targets throughout the year?  I'm living in the state of Maryland with DC 30 miles to the west and Baltimore 30 miles to the north in B5 skies.

 

Any thoughts much appreciated.



#2 Notdarkenough

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Posted 17 June 2022 - 01:48 PM

I, too, have a similar situation. For me, I went with as much south and west sky as I could. I have no view to the east as my best spot is in a sheltered area at the west of my house. Excellent wind protection. An excellent shade tree blocks Polaris, so I use Sharpcap to polar alignment, but my CEM70 iPolar also works fine. Just nothing east or northeast. Just my 2cents.


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#3 JohnBear

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Posted 17 June 2022 - 01:51 PM

Have you considered the "rooftop pier" concept:

https://www.cloudynights.com/topic/752132-rooftop-observatory-challenges


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#4 joelcindyclark

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Posted 17 June 2022 - 01:52 PM

I had the same concerns when constructing my observatory near my home on my 5 acres. For me, I prioritized the following:

1 - Light pollution....any area that wasn't drowned out by direct lighting. I live near a highway and there were certain areas on my acreage that I could do shadow puppet shows from. Plus, I have a huge light dome toward the west (urban area) so I didn't prioritize viewing in that direction.

2 - Views towards the south/southeast...that's the part of the sky that changes the most at my (and your) latitude, providing planetary viewing and varied targets throughout the year.

 

3 - Comfortable proximity to the house....I'm far enough away from the house that it is not a major obstruction, but close enough to hook up to electricity with a long extension cord and warm up during those longer cold nights in the wintertime. Plus, where I selected it's fully fenced (we have wildlife), which provides a sense of safety. It's a lot easier to convince myself to head out for a night of observing when the walk isn't that far.

For you, it sounds like trees are a major factor....those are much easier to trim/remove than the barn or house.  If there's a particular one that blocks a really good view, is it possible to remove?

 

Best of luck to you,


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#5 lee14

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Posted 17 June 2022 - 01:53 PM

A clear view south is generally to be preferred, especially if solar system objects are of interest. Visibility of Polaris is nice for precise alignment. The best quality viewing is higher in the sky, so as long as that's clear, there'll always be an abundance of targets.

 

Lee


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#6 Maximus001

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Posted 17 June 2022 - 02:08 PM

Thanks all, much of your advice is confirmation of my thoughts.   I do have a 10" Dob that I'm always free to move around to view something special not viewable from the PP.

 

How important is it for the spot to be level?  The choice spot with good easterly and southern skies is on a slope behind the barn.     



#7 CharLakeAstro

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Posted 17 June 2022 - 02:14 PM

That sounds perfect. The correct sky directions, and the barn might block ambient light from the house. Yes, you want level, but a minor undertaking to make it level... often as simple as building a level observing deck on the slope. Railings on the downslope side. Make the deck large enough to accomodate a "warm up" room (shed) where you can store astro gear. 

 

Thanks all, much of your advice is confirmation of my thoughts.   I do have a 10" Dob that I'm always free to move around to view something special not viewable from the PP.

 

How important is it for the spot to be level?  The choice spot with good easterly and southern skies is on a slope behind the barn.     


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#8 Maximus001

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Posted 17 June 2022 - 02:27 PM

That sounds perfect. The correct sky directions, and the barn might block ambient light from the house. Yes, you want level, but a minor undertaking to make it level... often as simple as building a level observing deck on the slope. Railings on the downslope side. Make the deck large enough to accomodate a "warm up" room (shed) where you can store astro gear. 

Of course, and isolate the pier from the deck, right?

 

It's actually close enough to the barn (which is insulated and clean)


Edited by Maximus001, 17 June 2022 - 02:33 PM.

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#9 CharLakeAstro

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Posted 17 June 2022 - 04:46 PM

Yes definitely isolate.

There is a lot of great info in the thread linked below...

 

https://www.cloudyni...g/#entry9174105

 

 

Of course, and isolate the pier from the deck, right?

 

It's actually close enough to the barn (which is insulated and clean)


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#10 Maximus001

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Posted 19 June 2022 - 06:09 AM

Yes definitely isolate.

There is a lot of great info in the thread linked below...

 

https://www.cloudyni...g/#entry9174105

Great information on the tread. Something everyone interested in a PP should read.  It took me awhile to read and understand most of it but well worth the effort, for sure


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#11 davidmalanick

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Posted 20 June 2022 - 04:25 PM

Hi Folks,

 

I've been looking into the idea of a permanent pier but find that all locations are a major compromise.  Living out in the country certainly has its benefits for stargazing but I'm surrounded by huge trees a large barn and of course the house, What I'm wondering is how should I prioritize each section of the sky?  That is, would you think the south is likely the part of the sky with the best targets throughout the year?  I'm living in the state of Maryland with DC 30 miles to the west and Baltimore 30 miles to the north in B5 skies.

 

Any thoughts much appreciated.

Don't forget to maybe plan for some 6'-8' fencing around your pier for a wind break.



#12 Maximus001

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Posted 20 June 2022 - 04:50 PM

Don't forget to maybe plan for some 6'-8' fencing around your pier for a wind break.

I think my barn will block the prevailing winds but that's an excellent point. My problem is that the choice location actually has no view of Polaris.  I'm hoping to be able to polar align close enough for GoTo functionality


Edited by Maximus001, 20 June 2022 - 04:51 PM.


#13 gmiller123456

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Posted 22 June 2022 - 08:32 AM

Being able to see Polaris is nice, but you can polar align without it.  Any of the non-moving, interesting objects to the North, eventually end up much higher, so you generally don't actually lose much by having the North obstructed.



#14 DSOGabe

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Posted 22 June 2022 - 11:57 AM

Thanks all, much of your advice is confirmation of my thoughts.   I do have a 10" Dob that I'm always free to move around to view something special not viewable from the PP.

 

How important is it for the spot to be level?  The choice spot with good easterly and southern skies is on a slope behind the barn.     

You should try for a level area, not so much for the pier itself but for your comfort. I would imagine that moving around on a sloped area can be tiring and it also may affect reaching the eyepiece if it is a significant slope.  It is always possible to build up the area a bit to provide level ground or to make a small deck for that. 



#15 gnowellsct

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Posted 23 June 2022 - 08:35 AM

1. In your upstate New York backyard, go outside with a magnetic compass and identify the markings SW.

2. Walk 2000 miles.

3. Set up your pier.


Then you're good to go!

Greg N

#16 Maximus001

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Posted 23 June 2022 - 11:43 AM

I do love the southwest for the occasional visit.

 

I'm still stuck on getting close to polar alignment since the northern sky is blocked by my barn.  I looked up the magnetic declination for my location which is 11 degrees west.  Do you suppose I can adjust my mount by the 11 degrees and get close enough to polar alignment to proceed to star alignment if all other settings are accurate?



#17 gnowellsct

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Posted 23 June 2022 - 12:43 PM

I do love the southwest for the occasional visit.

 

I'm still stuck on getting close to polar alignment since the northern sky is blocked by my barn.  I looked up the magnetic declination for my location which is 11 degrees west.  Do you suppose I can adjust my mount by the 11 degrees and get close enough to polar alignment to proceed to star alignment if all other settings are accurate?

If you're setting up a permanent rig you really should use one of the "plate solving" systems that takes an image of the portion of the sky, matches that image to a sky map, figures out where everything is, then repeats the process in a few more places in the sky, then it tells you how much to adjust the system.

 

There is a technique called "drift alignment" you can find instructions on the 'net.  It is something of an art IMO.   

 

With Argo Navis TPAS system, you can do a multi-point alignment and then "solve" for a pointing model.  The readout will tell you how to adjust the mount if you want better polar alignment (such as 2 degrees up and 40 arc minutes W or E in azimuth).   I use Argo Navis but I get close enough with a polar scope that I don't refine the polar alignment using a computer.

 

Greg N


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#18 Ionthesky

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Posted 23 June 2022 - 08:04 PM

Max,

 

Have you considered adding iPolar to your iOptron mount?  Sounds like the right fit for your situation.

 

Regards, 

Dave



#19 Maximus001

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Posted 23 June 2022 - 08:26 PM

Max,

 

Have you considered adding iPolar to your iOptron mount?  Sounds like the right fit for your situation.

 

Regards, 

Dave

How would that help without being able to see Polaris from that location?



#20 WillR

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Posted 23 June 2022 - 08:36 PM

I do love the southwest for the occasional visit.

 

I'm still stuck on getting close to polar alignment since the northern sky is blocked by my barn.  I looked up the magnetic declination for my location which is 11 degrees west.  Do you suppose I can adjust my mount by the 11 degrees and get close enough to polar alignment to proceed to star alignment if all other settings are accurate?

If you have an iphone, you can set the compass to true north.


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#21 GoFish

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Posted 23 June 2022 - 08:57 PM

Last fall I was faced with a very similar situation. 
 

First, I placed a high priority on having Polaris visible. I wanted PA to be as simple as possible. Fortunately that requirement wasn’t too hard to satisfy. 

 

Then I eliminated locations within 15’ of my driveway, just to remove the concern about vehicle strikes.
 

Next, I ebay’ed a used Suunto “clinometer” to measure vertical angles. This is the key, IMO.
 

I chose the spot where the tree tops allowed me the longest horizon above 30 degrees altitude angle, as measured with the clinometer. Basically, that turned out to be the sector starting from north, then going around the east sky until reaching south-southwest. Maybe a smidge over 180 degree horizon above the tops of the trees.
 

I can see a little of the western sky above 60 degrees altitude, but from due east to due south is my sweet spot. 
 

I’ll offer encouragement to proceed with your permanent pier. Mine has made a huge difference in my observing time and enjoyment of my scopes. 
 

PS more info on my project here https://www.cloudyni...ood-pier-story/


Edited by GoFish, 23 June 2022 - 09:05 PM.

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#22 Ionthesky

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Posted 23 June 2022 - 08:57 PM

How would that help without being able to see Polaris from that location?

Take a look at the product description.   It's a plate solving solution, as Greg suggested.  I've never used one, but it seems like it would do exactly what you need.

 

Hope this helps!

Dave 


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#23 Maximus001

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Posted 23 June 2022 - 09:08 PM

Take a look at the product description.   It's a plate solving solution, as Greg suggested.  I've never used one, but it seems like it would do exactly what you need.

 

Hope this helps!

Dave 

I do have Ipolar and have used it when I have a clear view of the northern skies.  I'm just not sure how it can work for me without a clear view to the north.  I will, however, look into it and appreciate the suggestion.  If Ipolar works, my problem is solved.



#24 gnowellsct

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Posted 23 June 2022 - 11:01 PM

How would that help without being able to see Polaris from that location?

ipolar is one of them thar newfangled plate solving gizmos.   Could be the ticket.  



#25 gnowellsct

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Posted 23 June 2022 - 11:24 PM

I must say the iOptron reviews are not convincing.   It's not a large number of reviews.  Might be meaningless.

 

https://www.ioptron....duct-p/3339.htm




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